When do admitted students visit campus?

Most admitted students choose to visit for two weekdays and part of a weekend in early March. We arrange opportunities to talk with faculty in research areas of your interest and give a taste of life in Boulder.

Even though formal APS department-planned events are scheduled for two weekdays, we encourage prospective students to plan to stay at least one additional day because the current graduate students plan extra activities and events such as hiking, skiing, and exploring downtown Boulder (e.g., fly in on Saturday to stay Sunday-Wednesday or fly out Sunday for your visit Thursday-Saturday).

Can I set up a tour of the department before I am officially admitted?

No. We receive a high volume of requests to meet with our department pre-admissions. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate individual requests to meet with the APS staff or faculty before admissions. Students who are admitted to the program are invited to a prospective visit at which time they will visit the campus and meet with our department. 

How much is tuition?

While there are no absolute guarantees, this is the situation as it has existed in the past.

  1. All admitted students, whether domestic or international, receive a full tuition waiver and are guaranteed support as a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant for the first year. Each student is still responsible for student fees. (The fee schedule may be found on the CU Bursar’s website.)
  2. All students making satisfactory progress are currently supported through a Teaching Assistantship or Research Assistantship and this is expected to continue.
  3. The university will contribute most of the cost of the Gold Comprehensive Insurance Plan. Additional information is available by calling the Wardenburg Student Health Insurance Office at 303-492-5107 or accessing the Golden Buffalo Student Health Insurance website at http://www.colorado.edu/health/insurance/health-insurance.
  4. All of this is automatically given to you as part of your admission package.
Should I take the GRE?

The GREs are optional. You should consider taking the GRE and reporting a score to us if you think there is some attribute in your academic performance that the GRE would help offset.  As an example, if you felt your GPA was quite low but you got a good score on the GREs, you might use those to argue that your academic preparedness was stronger than reflected by your GPA. Not having a GRE score will in no way whatsoever negatively affect an application. 

Should I contact faculty members before applying?

There is no need to reach out to professors before applying. The majority of the students we admit haven't made contact with faculty in any other way besides the application. However, applicants should make sure their research interests line up with what APS faculty are doing. 

Is there an application fee wavier?

The Graduate School offers application fee waivers for participants in the following programs: AmeriCorps (currently serving), Black in AI (BAI), Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative, Gates Millennium Scholars, Leadership Alliance, Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program (LSSURP), Louis-Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), Math Alliance Scholars, McNair Scholars Program, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar Program, Peace Corps (currently serving), Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), SMART, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and Teach for America. If you are affiliated with one of these programs, please send us proof of your affiliation to gradadm@colorado.edu after you have started an application and before you submit, and we will process your fee waiver for you. 

If you are in the U.S. military you will receive an automatic fee waiver as a thank you for your service (active duty, veteran, previously served, and active reserve are all eligible for this automatic fee waiver).

APS Department fee waivers:

We can provide a small number of fee waivers to cover the cost of the University of Colorado application fee, at the discretion of the chair of the admissions committee. If the application fee represents a significant financial burden that would otherwise prevent you from applying to our program, please fill out this Google form explaining this need to our Graduate Program Coordinator. Neither your request for a fee waiver nor any personal information relating to the reason for requesting a fee waiver will impact the admissions decision.

I only want to get a master's degree, not a Ph.D. Is that possible?

The Astrophysical & Planetary Science department only accepts students intending to pursue a Ph.D.

Who should I contact with questions?

All questions should be directed to the Graduate Program Coordinator in APS. This is her contact information:
            Lindsay Nelson
            Email: Lindsay.Nelson-1@colorado.edu
            Phone: 303-492-8914
            Office hours: Mon-Fri  8:00-12:00; 1:00-5:00 PM  Mountain Time Zone

Can I audit classes to see what they are like if I'm not a student at CU yet?

Yes. People over the age of 18 years are permitted to audit courses at CU. 

In-person and hybrid in-person/online-remote classes offered by CU Boulder main campus as well as CE Evening Credit classes*, and CE online section 58X classes are eligible for auditing as part of the Auditors program during the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Auditors may search classes using the CU Boulder Class Search.

*CE Evening Credit classes are not offered during the summer.


Auditors must be formally included on the roster for the class(es) they will attend. To register as an auditor, submit the Auditor Registration Form (available August 1, 2022). Starting the first week of classes, obtain instructor approval via email or a physical form and submit the appropriate documentation online (once you have completed registration, an email detailing the next steps on how to obtain and submit your instructor approval will be sent). If you have questions about this process, please contact the Enrollment Services Team at ceregistration@colorado.edu.

An auditor may not switch from being an auditor to enrolling in a course for credit within the same semester. Community members interested in learning more about taking courses for credit should contact an academic advisor.

How much is the application fee?

$60 for domestic students and $80 for international students

Can I apply for the spring semester instead of the fall?

No. We begin each new class in the fall of each year and do not permit spring admissions. 

How long is the PhD program?

Students have a maximum of six years to complete their PhD program at CU Boulder. Typically, students take between 5-6 years to complete their PhDs. 

Do you accept students on a conditional basis?